Marcus Willis gets new season off to dream start
Published: 30 Jan 2013 10:280 comments
Willis needed a wildcard to secure a place in the tournament and was not tipped to make an impression with a lowly ATP world ranking of 964 - the lowest ranked player in the draw.
The Wokingham ace, though, beat top seed Josh Goodall 6-4, 6-4 in a hugely unexpected straight sets final.
Willis was a high calibre youngster, achieving a junior world ranking of 15, before suffering the loss of his Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) funding.
However, from November 2012, the now 22-year-old has been sponsored by A1 Pharmaceuticals Tennis Academy under the stewardship of founder and managing director Gary Lewis.
The partnership began with Willis competing in three ITF Futures events in Thailand, and was followed over the Christmas period with an intensive training block in preparation for the new season. Lewis has set his prodigy an ambitious but achievable target of reaching the top 100 by 2016.
Willis began the Futures tournament with a straight sets win against Frenchmen Julien Obry but had to battle hard to get past fellow Brit Toby Martin in the round of 16, eventually overcoming the loss of a first set tie-break to win in three sets.
He could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels in the quarter-finals, having already secured his target two points, but he notched up a famous win against British number five, and one-time GB Davis Cup player, Dan Evans.
The match appeared to be following the form book after Evans took the first set comfortably, but Willis raced through a second set tie-break without dropping a point to force a decider where he was not to be denied.
Willis was conceding around 400 world ranking positions against his semi-final opponent Christian Harrison from the United States.
The difference, however, was not noticeable on the court as Willis dominated the first set with a big serve and heavy groundstrokes. The second was a closer affair but Willis proved too strong and booked his place in the final with a 6-1, 7-6 win.
Goodall, Willis' opponent in the final, is a regular winner on the Futures circuit but could not respond to the onslaught and was shocked 6-4, 6-4.